Monday, November 29, 2010

A sneak peek into Douglas classes: Introductory Marketing

I consider myself to be a hyper-conscious consumer. I pride myself on always reading labels and being savvy to the insidious tricks of companies to get me to buy their products and gather information about my demographic (I never give out my postal code when I shop at Winners, ha ha!). So when I signed up to sit in on David Moulton’s Marketing 1120 – Introductory Marketing class, I was determined not to enjoy it.

But, darn it, it turned out to be really fun and interesting.

First of all, Moulton doesn’t mess around. When he arrived he plunked a “late jar” down on the front table. When a student came in five minutes after class has started, he marched to the front and dutifully plugged a Toonie into the slot. (Fines collected will go to the Christmas Hamper Fund and the Douglas College Foundation.)

But onto the class itself: this first-year course introduces major marketing concepts, addresses the role of marketing in business and explores the tools and techniques used in developing a marketing strategy. Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of the elements of the marketing mix – product, price, place and promotion – as well as current marketing issues and analytical methods.

But, much to my pleasant surprise, ethics in marketing also came up, as in social responsibility of businesses, and standards of fairness and moral rights and wrongs as applied to marketing practices. (Moulton expressed his disdain for that old trick of chips taking up only half the bag they’re sold in, making the product look more substantial than it is.)

Even if you don’t intend to pursue a career in Marketing, much of what you will learn in this class is topical and relevant to your daily life as a consumer. You will learn fun facts:  Did you know that Best Buy and Future Shop were owned by the same company? Or that there’s a conspiracy theory that Coke changed its formula to purposely rile consumers so they’d demand the original back (Coke Classic, anyone?), prompting higher sales?

The class may even force you to ask yourself some enticing questions (Why is it I prefer Heinz Ketchup to all other kinds? Why do I always buy the toilet paper with the puppy on the package?).

As for me, just one class taught me that marketing is not all about tricking consumers into buying stuff. It can also be about values, and listening to your customers and responding to their wants and needs.  Just ask the good folks at the Coca-Cola Company.

Tamara Letkeman has not been in a classroom for a number of years. She is braving the waves to give readers a glimpse into some of the awesome classes that Douglas offers.